[Ads-l] an indirect reminder of a hapax legomenon

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Wed Aug 3 18:01:11 UTC 2016


Franklin: "Mr. Adams, but, Mr. Adams
The things I write are only light extemporanea.
I won't put politics on paper; it's a mania
So I refuse to use the pen in Pennsylvania."

(Many lyrics sites spell it "extemporania," perhaps under analogical
pressure from the rhyming words.)

On Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 1:36 PM, Jim Parish <jparish at siue.edu> wrote:

> I seem to recall one other appearance of "extemporanea", in _1776_; during
> the scene in which Franklin, Jefferson, et al. are arguing over who is to
> draft the Declaration, Franklin dismisses his own writings as
> "extemporanea". Or so I remember, having watched the film about a month ago.
> Jim Parish
> On 8/3/2016 12:29 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> Today's Times contained an obit for ex-Queen Anne of Romania (widow of
>> deposed King Michael):
>> http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/02/world/europe/romania-queen-anne-obituary.html
>> Toward the end, one of Anne's predecessors on the Romanian throne is
>> mentioned:
>> "She [Anne} will have the most lavish royal funeral in Romania since the
>> death in 1938 of Queen Marie, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria."
>> And yes, that was the Marie famously memorialized (and impersonated) by
>> one of our all-world quote magnets:
>> Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
>> A medley of extemporanea;
>> And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
>> And I am Marie of Roumania.
>> --Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well (1937)
>> And yes, "extemporanea", unlisted in the OED, apparently made its first
>> and virtually only appearance in the written record in this verse.
>> LH

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list